It just stopped … on the go

January 26th, 2016 No comments

I was heading home and my car started running rough then just shut off. Did my fuel pump die?

What Vehicle? 1998 Nissan 200SX

If you let it sit for 10-15 minutes does it start back up? No

Diagnosis by phone: My first guess was that the fuel pump, fuel pump relay may have quit.

Final diagnosis: The three basic things you need to get an engine to start are air, fuel and spark. So we start with those. I started by putting an inductive sensor on the #1 plug wire and cranked the engine. The sensor was picking up a signal, but it wasn’t at the regular rhythmic cycle that I expected, so I suspected something in the ignition system. I pulled the air filter to check and see if there was anything blocking it, but it was good. Air system is most likely not the issue. Next I pulled the plugs. Plugs smelled of fuel, so I could most likely rule out the fuel system. Plugs looked normal except a little oily. I reinstalled them and worked up the ignition system. I pulled the cap and something fell out on the floor when I removed it. Initially I thought it might have been the carbon button in the center of the cap, but I was wrong. I looked under the car for the item that fell out and found a small screw. On inspecting the rotor I found that on this particular vehicle the rotor is held in place with a screw that comes in from the side and threads into the distributor shaft.

Solution: Reinstall the distributor rotor and screw with a half drop of medium Locktite. Cleaned up the inside of the cap and the rotor contact. Reinstalled the distributor cap. Started right up.

Intermittent dead battery

January 27th, 2012 No comments

My Camry isn’t always turning off the headlights when I turn off the ignition. It killed the battery the other day. Why aren’t the headlights going off when I turn off the key?

What Vehicle? 1994 Toyota Camry

What’s the trim package level? LE

Did the buzzer go off to alarm you the day the headlights were left on? No

Diagnosis by phone: My first guess was that there was something shorting out in the headlight system.

Final diagnosis: When I got the car the first thing I wanted to do is to try to re-create the issue. I turned the car on and turned the headlights on and made sure that the drivers door was closed. I turned the key off and opened the drivers door to check the headlights and they were off. Well, it looks like it’s working. I then re-read the owners manual to verify what it is supposed to do. If the headlights are on and the car is running once you turn off the car and open the driver’s door the headlights are supposed to turn off. OK, so it was doing exactly what it is supposed to do. Now the fun part.

  1. Turn on the headlights and leave the switch on the stalk in the Headlights On position for this whole test.
  2. Close the door
  3. Turn the key to ‘ON’ (or start it).
  4. Turn the key to ‘Lock”.
  5. Open the drivers Door.
  6. Check that the headlights are off.
  7. Repeat #2-6 until #6 fails (lights are still on).

Once I finally got the lights to stay on I started to test the system. The first thing I checked was the Courtesy Light Door Switch. Once I wiggled this the buzzer came on to let me know that my keys were still in the ignition and concurrently the headlights turned off.

The interesting thing about this switch is that it sends input to quite a few systems in a modern vehicle. Here’s a list (not extensive) of some of the systems it signals.

  • Automated headlights (signals the system to turn them off when the key is in the off position and the door is open)
  • Key buzzer (you left your key in the ignition)
  • Light buzzer (the headlights are still on)
  • Courtesy light (turns on the courtesy lights – ignition, dome, door, under dash, running boards, etc.)
  • Door ajar warning light (light in the combination meter)
  • Security system input (someone’s trying to break in)
  • Power lock input (Key’s in the ignition, door is open, push the door locks to lock the doors and it overrides the command to lock the vehicle so you can’t lock your keys in your car)

Solution: Replace the Courtesy Light Door Switch (~$25 from Toyota).

Radiator fluid low

December 19th, 2011 No comments

The radiator fluid in my vehicle is low. I don’t see any leak on the floor, where is it going?

What vehicle is it? ‘93 Toyota 4Runner, Automatic

What engine does it have in it? ‘99 5vze 3.4l V6.

How many miles? The body has 160K on it, the engine has 30K since the rebuild.

Does it have the original stock radiator (all metal) or aftermarket (plastic/metal)? This has the original stock radiator, it’s all metal.

Is it overheating? No it isn’t.

Have the head gaskets ever been replaced? Yes, about 30K miles ago when the engine was rebuilt right before it was put in.

Diagnosis by phone: If this was the original 3.0l V6 I would be concerned with a head gasket leak as these were prone to leaking on cylinder 1 and 6. My guess would be that you have a very small leak somewhere in the system that is letting out enough coolant as to create a loss, but it is small enough that it doesn’t ever hit the ground. It’s either evaporating, or pooling somewhere that can’t be seen.

Final diagnosis: Pulled the radiator out and took it to a radiator repair shop. Sometimes these are hard to find as most places just sell new aftermarket radiators. I wanted to look into the price for repair vs. new because of the cost difference and because the customer wanted to stick with an all metal radiator. The radiator shop checked it over and suggested two different routes. The first one would be to solder/braze the cracked area. This would be the cheapest way, but with the amount of other suspect areas on the top tank it was suggested to just replace the whole top tank. The other suspect areas were showing signs of starting to leak also. If the current leak is repaired and then the system pressurized the other areas would start to leak due to the higher pressure. The new top tank with a cleaning (rod out) and installation was only slightly higher than the cost of 2 repairs.

Solution: Replace the top tank on the radiator. Reinstall the radiator with new fluid. No more leaks, coolant stays the right level and it’s ready for summer, 4wheelin’, and running the A/C.

New store where it’s FREE to post items

December 12th, 2011 No comments
We put up a new storefront! It’s for those of you who only sell a few items at a time and may only sell items every few months. Here’s the details.
  • Monthly advertising fee: FREE
  • # of parts posted at one time: up to 3
  • Fee / item sold: $2.50
It’s free to post up to three items and you only pay if and when your items sell. It’s a great way to test out our shopping cart system. Sell some of those items in your garage and get a little more cash in your pocket for Christmas.
And as always, you can post up to 3 items at a time, you don’t have to wait until the next month to post more items. Sell a couple and you can post a couple more. Our goal is to help you sell as many items as you can. Let us know if we can do something to help your items sell.

How do I sell a set of wheels and tires?

November 28th, 2011 No comments

I have a set of 5-20″ wheels and tires, only 2 of the tires are in good shape. How best do I go about this?

Just a few quick notes on moving them.
  1. Clean them up good and take some good quality pictures. One or two of the wheels, one of the tire tread, maybe one of the bad tire tread. The more pictures, the less questions you’ll have to answer. It also pre-qualifies the buyers by weeding out those who ‘don’t like’ the wheels you’re selling. Pictures sell!
  2. 20″ rims are kinda special in that not everyone wants them. Although if you go to buy a new set be prepared to pay big bucks. I’ve seen a set of 4 used custom 20×9″ rims go anywhere from $250-$500. Really depends on the rim, what it fits, and who’s looking.
  3. In their current condition the tires aren’t really going to increase the price of the set (rims & tires) although I wouldn’t split them up as the tires might help sell the set.
  4. Try to put as much of the specific details in the ad.
    1. wheel brand (a lot of the time this is on the center cap, or cast into the back of the wheel)
    2. wheel model (sometimes this takes more digging to find, look on the manufacturer’s website, or on a distributors website)
    3. wheel size (this should be cast into the back of the wheel also)
    4. wheel backspacing or offset (sometimes this is cast into the back of the wheel)
    5. wheel bolt pattern (if you know what vehicle they were on you should be able to find the bolt pattern, look on tire rack or call the auto dealership)
    6. tire brand (molded into the sidewall)
    7. tire model (also molded into the sidewall)
    8. tire size (molded into the sidewall)
    9. tire tread depth (you can get a tread depth gauge at any auto parts store for about $5)
Feel free to post them on www.180parts.com. Wheels and tires if priced right tend to move quickly. Right now (December 2011) we’re running a special where it’s free to post them up for the first 30 days. We have lots of buyers in Colorado and some in New Mexico and daily we’re getting between 50 and 200 searches for items and new users every week. The nice thing about 180parts is that you won’t ever have to give out your personal information to any potential buyers unless you want someone to meet you at your house to pick them up.